Kingfisher airlines, Deccan, SpiceJet..AirIndia, Jet, Sahara..Indian (thats the new improved Indian Airlines btw- whats with the revamping drive everywhre)
Amongst all these classy airlines with hot stewards and pretty airhostesses serving you everything from Taj food to personalised kits including headphones..showing the latest movies, pampering you. In short marketing at its best.
But amidst all the hype and offers whatever happened to our dear old Rajdhani,Shatabdi and the likes?
Trains were and will remain a part of some of my Best memories till date…somehow over the last few years my train journeys have reduced.( took one this year, zero last yr)
As a kid i loved buying books at the railway station (ok fine i liked chacha chaudhary and tinkle n all that). I was very fussy about food, but somehow loved meals on trains (that is going to be the name of my restaurant if i ever have one.lol) Meals also meant additional packets of chips and all that junk food at each stop (i recently had everything from samosas to jhaal muri to nestle milk on my last trip..) not to mention the packed delicacies.
Now trains offer fun which airplanes cannot possibly offer us, especially when we are almost chained to our seats..somehow being confined in that one seat fastened by the seatbelt (even if u have the best novel, best music and the best movie running) just cannot replace the top bunker of the train or the pasing view from window seat (with numerous possible stories crossing us ) or the area near the train door with the nice cool breeze greeting you.
Comin next are the train mates (if there is any such term- much better than the flight mates..remember prince su- damn i’m sure had he been in a train he would have made another story altogther.lol) On our school trip to Rajasthan few years back, we irritated our poor neighbours so much, that they got sick and tired of complaining to our teachers..endless games of pictionary, tabu, cards..antakshari (my sole knowledge of old hindi film songs have been from these sessions where each song i heard my mom sing made me wonder- ‘which era has she gone back to’)
Out of all train journeys…there has been one which is the most memorable one..(actually all of them taken during the school trip were awesome) but this one’s special.. If anyone of you have been on the Bikaner Express which runs from Delhi to Bikaner then you know what I’m talking about.
Now that train was Some journey from beginning to end. Now i can’t recall which station it exactly was (either delhi or bikaner) but we had an overnight train journey and the station was completely deserted. Apparently some area opposite the station was a red light area, which scared and angered our teachers incharge and they were treating us like nursery school kids who’d run away if our hands were not held.( no they didn’t hold our hands coz we were too many n they were like 6 of them ) And the moment someone realised this, news spread like wildfire and 53 of us kept staring at and kept pointing towards a particular direction, like it was the most exciting thing ever.
In the station we had separate bogies, so we were grouped off randomly (which didn’t go well with some, coz we were in the ‘i want to be grouped with my friend only’ phase) Finally the train arrived after much wait and our teachers hurriedly pushed us inside, apparently coz the train stopped for 10 minutes only. We were inside within 2 minutes.
Now inside the train- there were no lights. Sure we’d figure it out. I was grouped with a bunch of people i didn’t know very well, but my friend was in the next compartment so i was cool with it. Tomboy actually managed to switch the single bulb on…thanks to which we had our packed meals in peace (that meal was one of the best meals throughout the trip- our caterers seemed like the best cooks at that time and by the end of the trip we couldn’t even tolerate the site of them, forget the food)
6 of us in the compartment, enjoying the lovely parathas, paneer and dal. The minute the train started, the lights went off- amazing. Our teachers were also scared about random, drunk people entering the train (apparently this was the kind of train these drunkards frequented..lol- why exactly did they choose it for us i don’t know..but it was fun!)
The doors were shut, a few men did enter, gave us girls long hard stares (which was enough for a few of these girls to get scared. lol we were kids.) Nobody dared to go to the bathroom cause- it was a horrible mess, and we had been almost ordered not to leave our compartments unless u are accompanied by teachers..(control your pee ladies). Our compartment was closest to the door, (there were no side compartments) the door was diagnolly opposite our compartment. Suddenly we hear a loud banging noise on the door (first bit of freaking out starts) Train is moving..its freezingly cold..we’re all sharing blankets, shawls whatever could keep us warm..our teacher in the next compartment screams- Nobody moves, just sit in your places.(yes like we’re dying to open the horribly stuck door) the banging continues. we stare at each other. What do we do? Who’s it? Just shut up and go off to sleep..was what one of them said.
Suddenly the door opens slightly, its still stuck and a hand flashes in (ok now everyone’s almost freaked out) the hand keeps moving..pushes the door, holds the handle..then we see a man hanging on to the door…the wind blowing badly his face ghostly, he’s swinging from side to side.(the image is so vivid in my mind i wish i had clicked it.lol) Now our Brave teacher got up to save her freaked out students. lol. Man manages to hop in,pushing the door.. bringing in another wave of cool breeze. Gives us a long hard stare (ok we know you’ve never seen freaked out girls) After that began the never ending session of horror stories (some of which people claimed were personal) Prayergirl was actually praying with fear throught the night and we kept teasing her. Friends from next compartment joined us..and we kept scaring each other all night and joking around. About 8 of us sitting opposite each other..pulling the blankets..we barely slept that night and when we did sleep i ended up on a hard suitcase sleeping in the most awakward position ever, clutching my blanket..while the whispering gossips continued.
ok all of you who are curious about the man..well he crossed us..sat in his compartment..there were a couple of other men in the same compartment. Our teach who was in our bogie..didn’t sleep all night, few of the girls did give her company (and they are in her good books for life)..and morning was awesome..we saw peacocks and the weather was really good and everyone exchanged notes about the previous night!